People News: Visit Sacramento, Washington County Visitors Association, Miraval Group and More Appoint New Leadership, Make Promotions

April 15, 2021

As the meetings industry sets its sights on a post-pandemic future, organizations and companies throughout the country are appointing new leaders, creating fresh roles and making promotions in preparation for busier times ahead. Take a look!

Visit Sacramento has appointed its 15-year Chief Marketing Officer, Sonya Bradley, as its chief of diversity, equity and inclusion, a new role created to address the organization’s commitment to taking action and creating lasting change in the Sacramento region’s tourism industry and across the country.

A 25-year veteran of the travel and tourism industry, Bradley helped lead the creation of the new position after the killing of George Floyd prompted her and the Visit Sacramento team to reexamine their own actions around equity and inclusion while looking more deeply at the organization’s role in the community. 

In her new role, Bradley will work alongside the marketing and sales departments and collaborate with local tourism, hospitality and related businesses to help make Sacramento an even more welcoming place for all visitors. Besides exploring how tourism organizations can better incorporate DEI into their daily operations, Bradley and her team will also share and collaborate on best practices with peers around the country

Dave Parulo, president of Meet Chicago Northwest has been tapped to assume the helm of the Washington County Visitors Association in Beaverton, Oregon, as its president and CEO. He will depart his current role on May 7.

Parulo served as president of Meet Chicago Northwest since 2010, joining what was then the Greater Woodfield Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2007 as its director of partnership and business development. A 30-year hospitality professional, he previously worked as a hotel executive for Starwood and Hilton-branded hotels in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.

Recognized as a tourism leader in Illinois, Parulo departs as the chair-elect of the Illinois Council of Convention and Visitors Bureaus and as a leader of its legislative committee.

During his time at the CVB, Parulo was recognized as Business Leader of the Year by the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce and twice nominated for Business Leader of the Year by the Arlington Heights Chamber.

Anthony Duggan has been appointed area vice president of Miraval Group, owner and operator of three luxury wellness resorts and spas: Miraval Arizona, Miraval Austin and Miraval Berkshires. In his new role, Duggan will oversee and support operations at all three resorts in addition to his existing position as general manager of Miraval Austin, a role he’s held since 2019.

During his time at Miraval Austin, the property has earned numerous accolades and awards, including being named one of the top “Destination Spa Resorts in the U.S.” by Conde Nast Traveler’s 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards, one of the “Top 15 Domestic Spas” by Travel + Leisure’s 2020 World’s Best Awards, as well as “North America’s Best Resort Spa 2020” from The World Spa Awards.

Before joining Miraval Austin, Anthony led some of the most iconic resorts in the world, including Amangiri in Utah, L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona, Fairmont Kea Lani in Hawaii and Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park.

The historic Fenway Hotel in Dunedin, Florida, has appointed 17-year hospitality industry veteran Michael (Mickey) Melendez as its new general manager. Most recently, Melendez worked as general manager of The Daytona, and as task force general manager at the Playa Largo Resort & Spa, both members of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

Melendez began his career with Columbia Sussex, where he worked his way from bellman to director of operations. He entered management with the Shaner Hotel Group, where he served as general manager to several properties throughout the southeast, including Courtyard Jacksonville Beach Oceanfront and Durham Marriott City Center. 

Kathy Rasmussen has become the new vice president of housing for full-service global meetings solution company ConferenceDirect. In her new role, she will be responsible for day-to-day operations with housing and call center services.

Rasmussen previously served as director of housing services for Experient, where she supported events ranging in size from 1,000-100,000 attendees across association, trade show and corporate business. 

“[Kathy’s] extensive housing experience and proven track record will be instrumental as ConferenceDirect supports our customers’ return to in-person meetings,” said Adam Briggs, ConferenceDirect’s senior vice president of operations. “Additionally, her presence will allow our existing teams to sharpen their focus on growing our virtual and hybrid event business.”  

South Tampa’s Epicurean Hotel has appointed two industry veterans to leadership positions at the 137-room boutique hotel: Shawn Routten as general manager and Adam Hyatt as executive chef. 

Routten will oversee the hiring of new staff and day-to-day operations of the Epicurean, where he previously worked for five years before being promoted to general manager of Fenway Hotel. Hyatt also spent time at the Fenway, where he served as executive chef when the property opened in 2018.

With more than 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Routten spent the first 12 years of his career with Mainsail Lodging & Development as a front desk host before working his way up to front office manager. In 2013, he was promoted to opening front office manager at the Epicurean Hotel, and became its director of operations in 2017. In 2018, he was tapped to become Fenway’s general manager.

As executive chef at the Epicurean, Hyatt will direct daily culinary operations at the hotel’s signature restaurants while also overseeing food and beverage offerings for the Epicurean’s meeting and event space. With more than 18 years of culinary experience, Hyatt was most recently executive chef at Steelbach, and prior to that, executive chef of HEW Parlor & Chophouse. He was also chef partner at Platt Street Borough and has held positions at Ciccio Restaurant Group, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion and Mystic Fish in Palm Harbor.

The Amara Cay Resort has appointed Lauren Clevenger as its new general manager. Prior to her new role, Clevenger worked her way through the Islamorada Resort Collection as a front desk guest services manager and events coordinator. She brings a decade of customer service experience to her new position at the 110-room oceanfront resort in Islamorada, Florida.

“I am delighted to be a part of the Amara Cay team and so excited for our team’s effort to take this resort to the next level,” Clevenger said. “Time management, guest interactions and organizational skills are my priority as I work every day to support and strengthen our hospitality team while having a great time doing it.”

Thirty-year meetings and hospitality industry veteran Jill Garcia has become the new president and owner of Pittsburgh-based The Hutton Group – Inspired Meetings & Events. With meeting planning expertise spanning major markets including association, corporate and SMERF clientele, Garcia has worked for global hotel brands, world-class theme parks, destination management companies and as an independent meeting planner and hotel specialist leader for the past two decades.

The company’s team of event planners and creative sales and marketing leaders include Jaime Andrade-Budesa, vice president of destination management services; Stephanie Tomaselli, director of sales; Dana Clements, director of meetings; Greta Becerra, director of operations and Tamara Abney, sales partner.

“We are thrilled to launch our business during this pivotal time in history and are excited that our destination management services division will be the first in the city for meetings and conventions traveling into Pittsburgh,” said Garcia, who officially began running the company on Jan 1.

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